By Robert Lindsay, Co-ordinator Association of Green Councillors
Green Party activist Duncan Kerr won a by-election for Shropshire Unitary Authority yesterday, (4 February 2016) in what was considered a safe Conservative seat.
Duncan has been an Oswestry Town Councillor since 2013 and has been active in the town for some time, including helping convert a disused church into an art centre.
He won with 513 votes pushing the Conservative candidate into second place with 367, Labour had 95 and the LibDem 81.
Duncan said: “Our vote was a bit higher than we expected, I must admit. A lot of our success was down to Chris Williams (regional campaign co-ordinator) whose attention to detail in the campaign really paid off.
“There were a lot of ideas that he came up with that we would not have thought of.”
The seat, Oswestry South, had always been seen as one with Green potential.
“We came second in 2009 with no work at all,” said Duncan. The result then was Con 660, Green 218, LibDem 201, Labour 79.
Duncan himself stood in 2013 this time coming a closer second to the Conservative gaining 32% of the vote or 337 votes to the Tory’s 46% or 488. (UKIP 175, LibDem 62).
“The Tory candidate this time wasn’t particularly strong. I don’t know whether it was arrogance or complacence but he wasnt there during polling, he was on a cruise in the Carribbean.”
Duncan said: “To be honest people voted for me because of what I was doing locally more than because I was Green.”
Duncan must defend his seat in May 2017, when all the council is up for re-election. But he said the campaign tactics learnt during this by-election would stand the local party well in the elections then.
“There will be a lot of bad news coming from Shropshire, which will not help the Tories. Budget cuts mean that by 2017 there will be zero spent on parks, zero spent on leisure and zero spent on new services or community development.”
Duncan’s victory was reported in the Shropshire Star. Some of the reader comments are worth repeating. One said: “Well done to Duncan. I was a life-long Conservative supporter until Telford MP Lucy Allan put herself and Telford in the headlines for the wrong reasons and so I will not be voting Conservatives next time round but will be looking for another Party to support. Maybe it will be the Green Party, maybe another Party but it won’t be Conservative.”
Another said: “A resounding thumbs-down for the Tories at Shropshire Council – and after the damage they have done to our services (and counting), well-deserved.”
There is now a Green councillor on every county in the West Midlands region.